Friday, April 5, 2019, is a highlight of me being a professional wrestling fan. That evening I attended my first (and so far only) NXT TakeOver and it was incredible. Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole two out of three falls is the best match I have ever witnessed live.
I consider this the peak of me being an NXT fan. This was the highest of highs I have ever felt watching the brand. I took in the crowd, I was amazed and in sync with the wrestling, and I got to watch Gargano finally achieve being world champion in an amazing match. It is one of the most perfect nights of pro wrestling I have ever been a part of and I will forever be grateful I experienced it and thankful to NXT for delivering on that night. I was deeply in love with the NXT brand.
Then we entered 2020 and I am forced to ask myself what happened?
Where is the love?
Where did it go wrong?
When did the wheels begin to fall off?
NXT gave me one of the greatest wrestling experiences ever we arrive at the point I rarely tune in and I find myself debating whether or not an NXT TakeOver is worth watching? What caused all of this? It gives me no pleasure, in fact, it is painful, that one of my favorite things in wrestling no longer clicks, no longer gives me that feeling it had done in years past. In a way, NXT Takeover in New York was the peak, and the way down was the only direction left.
I would eventually come to the conclusion that it was nothing more than NXT did wrong as much as another company did so much right and forced me to do something I did not allow myself to do previously. It made me examine the flaws of NXT, laid bare to me the first time after one day randomly, and on word of mouth only sampling another promotion. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone they say, but you also don’t know what you are missing until you go searching for it. I went searching and a promotion gave me what I was missing.
That promotion is Game Changer Wrestling.
I knew of Game Changer Wrestling. I don’t feel the need to list their independent credentials. As one of the top independent promotions going I had never really sampled them, not even the famed Joey Janela’s Spring Break shows. There was always a buzz near my ear telling me to give them a chance, but I always swatted it away. I had all the wrestling I could handle, my cup runneth over. I could not pour more into my schedule!
The buzz for GCW Run Rickey Run back in February though poked and prodded at me more and more. The hype and anticipation between Nick Gage and RSP were hitting a fever pitch and on that night the buzzing got so loud I couldn’t ignore, I clicked the purchase button and waited for my first GCW Show. As the seconds counted down I wondered would I regret this purchase? Was Game Changer Wrestling everything I have heard and everything it was hyped to be? I got my answer.
I was blown away. The atmosphere was amazing and from the very beginning the energy felt raw and powerful, GCW came in at me like a pro-wrestling derecho that almost knocked me off my couch. It was only two matches in where it hit my thoughts, “I want to be a part of these shows”. Even when the crowd started throwing trash into the ring and booing and cursing as RSP stood tall due to shenanigans in the main event I couldn’t help but feel “I want to experience all of that”.
It was more than just the atmosphere, it was variety. I got a taste of scramble matches, straight up wrestling matches, deathmatches, grudges, athleticism. It was a melting pot of wrestling, acrobats, brutality, blood, sweat, and emotion. An intense crowd that rarely let up. It is one of my favorite events of this cursed year that is 2020. It was truly a revelation to someone who had been holding off on giving them a chance, and with great ease, they would sweep me off my feet and carry me away. Game Changer Wrestling was the wrestling company I never realized I wanted to be a fan of, and now I was. In one show they had won me over.
A short while later I put on NXT and the disappointment washed over me like a rogue wave that I didn’t see coming until it hit. NXT is known for having an incredible talent pool and I would never discredit or point the finger of blame on the roster. But things felt generic, less organic. The crowds were good but they did not have that energy that raw emotion that GCW threw into my face. All matches now felt like they followed similar scripts with a slight coat of paint over each one in an attempt to dress them up and disguise them. Mauro’s commentary which I use to ignore and swept aside started to grate on me and I felt how forced and awkward it was for the first time. NXT still had its bright spots, but they were clouded with things feeling familiar, stifled, played out. NXT had become how I view AC/DC and War Game matches. Fun to take in dosages, but if you partake long enough it becomes too similar and same.
I’m not saying it was awful, but it wasn’t interesting or intriguing to me. Variety is the spice of life and NXT just didn’t give me that spice that GCW did that night. NXT seasoned their shows with salt and then added more salt leaving out the more interesting flavors in hopes that the same familiar recipe over and over again would continue to please the palate. Even matches that were well thought of by viewers didn’t click with me. Some of these matches could be argued as better than what GCW offered but they didn’t click, they didn’t get that investment of what GCW offered. When everything attempts to be that same special template, nothing achieves being special. Game Changer Wrestling had given me an onslaught of a variety of feelings in my matches, amazing atmosphere, raw energy, and a genuine expression of hype and emotion of which laid bare the inadequacies that plagued NXT in my eyes. NXT wants to be that super independent minus the independent, and now the cape and costume removed they were just another wrestling company once more.
Ever since then Game Changer Wrestling has been a must-see event for me.
I still tune into NXT on occasion when something catches my eye, but it’s no longer a must-watch for me. A one-night affair with Game Changer Wrestling ended years of love I had for NXT which makes me wonder was the love for NXT ever as strong as I thought, or was it just that strong because I had—perhaps wrongly—convinced myself it was the best wrestling brand America had to offer?
Love is fleeting, love is fickled, and love doesn’t last forever. It was a good few years NXT, but it is over.
Thanks for the memories NXT, but I’m no longer your girl. My heart belongs to GCW.